Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Solo Album

Have you ever listened to the work of a group and liked it, and then found out that one or more of the members have a solo album out? Or, how about this: the band breaks up and then one or more of its former members releases an album? Or what about: one of the group members leaves in a huff and the next month releases a solo album just to spite the other members, it seems? Regardless of the circumstances, I'm sure everyone has a least heard of this happening before and lately, I've been thinking about what these solo works say.

Many will attest to the trend that most of these albums are never any good. Perhaps this is so, but what I'm more interested in is what they say about the artist and what they contributed to the group while they were in, and what they do now that they're out. The most recent example of this that has caught my interest is the Beatles -which isn't recent at all, but I'm a little behind on these things. After the breakup of the Beatles, John and Paul went on to release their own solo work, and while listening to a sampling of each of these, in conjunction with the work the Beatles were turning out while together, I began to wonder...

John's influence is very heavily seen in the work that the Beatles did together, and this is perhaps easy to see because of his lead vocals in so many of their songs, but when listening to Paul's work, one is able to see the creative contributions he added to the group's work also. Part of me also wonders if the solo works of each respective artist are actually representative of each man's contributions to the group, or if they are what they are because each man decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do something completely different. And how much influence did the Beatles have on each man's solo work? It's all very convoluted and I'm not sure that these guys could have told you themselves.

I did, however, come to some personal conclusions which are completely subjective and possibly ignorant, but I will state them here anyway. I listened to Paul's Tug of War and John's Mind Games and, based on these works, decided that Paul is more like Mozart and John like Beethoven. What do I mean? Well, Paul's work seems to be more laid back, fun, and freely creative, while John's work always seems to be reaching for some objective, angsty, trying to make a statement, and is all around much more serious. If these men were painters (yes, painters, because I'm biased toward the visual arts) Paul would be a Georgia O'Keefe, painting things simply because they were beautiful and John would be Keith Herrig, constructing works with images and symbols aimed at communicating a specific message.

And now I can't help but wonder about the painting techniques of George and Ringo...

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